Career story by Aleksandr Dzharatov: “A path of an international student in Finland”.

Following my first article about integration and academic experience in Finland, I would like to share my career path after graduation and also cover such topics as: trends in Finnish labor market, opportunities for graduates with international background, and importance of Finnish language in the employment.

After graduation I was excited to start working in the field of business administration and couldn’t wait to get my first job. For a period of 6 months I had been applying to various entry-level positions in Central Finland, Tampere, Turku and capital area. I calculated all my applications, in total I applied to 65 positions. Out of those I got invited to 2 interviews, one of them led to other 2 interviews, and finally after the 3rd interview I wasn’t selected for the position. It was a frustrating experience as I expected completely different scenario of my career.

Work in Keskimaa:

I realized that I need to change something as my plan didn’t work out. In the end of July my friend shared a vacant position at the restaurant of gas station ABC. The employer is the biggest in the area – Osuuskauppa Keskimaa (also known as S-group). Although I didn’t plan to continue restaurant work after graduation, I had no other option than to apply to this position. The decision came almost immediately, I got hired by Keskimaa. It is worth to mention, this was my first Finnish speaking job, and it was definitely out of my comfort zone. I was able to manage work in Finnish, after numerous Finnish courses and hundreds of self-learning hours I had a B1 proficiency level. However, working in Finnish wasn’t easy, spoken language differs noticeably from written, in addition restaurant slang is used frequently. It took me around 2 months to adapt on the new workplace, but there is no doubt it was useful for my future career in Finland. In Keskimaa I learned many aspects of restaurant industry and gained new skills. I got an opportunity to study at the College of Services (Jypao), where I got a chef education and in the end became a professional in this field. I have developed Finnish even more and raised proficiency level from B1 to B2-C1, which was proved by passing YKI test (Finnish National Agency for Education, 2022). At the moment, I have worked in Keskimaa for 1,5 years. I’m grateful for this workplace and for all opportunities I received from the employer.

Joining Jamk as a trainee:

Simultaneously with my work at ABC, in May 2022 I got an exciting opportunity to become a trainee at Jamk Talent Boost project. I am grateful to the project manager Piia Hynynen and assistant Anna Zhuravleva for providing this opportunity and trusting in me from the very first day. This internship helped me to expand my network and understand the current needs of international talents. I was glad to share my knowledge and experience with current students. My internship lasted 6 months and ended in December 2022.

Future aspirations:

Talking about career plans for 2023, I’m looking forward to changing field from restaurant to business administration as I feel that currently I have much more experience and stronger skills set than back in 2021, so I stand as a more competitive candidate. In addition, I plan to continue studies on a Master’s level and become a high qualified professional in the field.

During 4,5 years in Finland, I have worked in quite many places and experienced labor market from different perspectives. I would like to share some observations of the Finnish labor market and my opinion on the career opportunities for international graduates.  Comparing to 2018-2020, I noticed that the Finnish labor market has grown and developed a lot. Employers are more open to international talents and aware of the importance of diversity. Without a doubt, in the capital area there are noticeably more opportunities to work in international companies in English. However, I see progress in Central Finland as well. In 2018, a student without Finnish could practically only work in a food or newspaper delivery. After the Covid-19 crisis, there are many new opportunities in a growing and changing labor market. Restaurant and hotel businesses started hiring international students and graduates, they lowered their requirements to Finnish skills. There are more job opportunities in other fields as well, you could get hired without fluent Finnish and in some cases work in English.

If you ask me what are the key factors to get a job, I will name three: strong network, adaptivity to Finnish work culture, Finnish language skills. When you master these, you get much higher chances to get invited to a job interview and get hired in the end. Therefore, my recommendation to fellow international students would be to stay active and build strong network, simultaneously learning Finnish and practicing it whenever possible.


Osuuskauppa Keskimaa, 2022.

College of Services (Jypao), 2022.

Finnish National Agency for Education, 2022.

Jamk Talent Boost, 2022.

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